The decision by Disney on Friday shows that the company is optimistic about movie theater audiences returning, despite Covid-19 spikes caused by the Delta variant.
“As confidence in moviegoing continues to improve, we look forward to entertaining audiences in theaters, while maintaining the flexibility to give our Disney+ subscribers the gift of Encanto this holiday season,” Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution Chairman Kareem Daniel said in a statement.
“Encanto,” an animated film about a magical family in Colombia with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, will be available exclusively in theaters for a month following its November 24 release. It will be on Disney+ on Christmas Eve.
The other scheduled releases for the year will be in theaters exclusively for 45 days. Marvel’s “Eternals” will be in theaters November 5 and a remake of “West Side Story” will be in theaters December 10. Other movies hitting theaters this year include “The Last Duel,” “Ron’s Gone Wrong” and “The King’s Man.”
As streaming increasingly became the new normal for movie watching, theater owners struggled throughout the pandemic to operate as normal.
Marvel’s “Shang-Chi,” which opened exclusively in theaters, broke Labor Day box office records. The first Marvel film starring an Asian American superhero grossed $247.6 million globally since it was released two weeks ago, staying at the top of the box office during its second week as well. Many viewed its successful opening as an encouraging sign for brick-and-mortar theaters.
Disney released Marvel’s “Black Widow” in both theaters and on Disney+ in July. The film’s star, Scarlett Johansson, sued the company claiming the simultaneous release breached an agreement on her salary, which was based on the box office haul.